A Southern California senator was reprimanded for playfully putting a woman in a headlock and rubbing his knuckles against her head, according to documents released Friday.
Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa did not have sexual intent and didnt mean to make the woman uncomfortable, but he exercised poor judgment by giving her a so-called noogie, investigators wrote.
The woman was attending a reception in June for Republican lawmakers held by a health care advocacy organization with which she was affiliated, the records show. The woman told investigators that Moorlach gave her a noogie while they were taking a photo, and she says was bothered by it.
The letter of reprimand, dated Aug. 27, says Moorlach told investigators he gives noogies “quite a bit.” It also says he was reprimanded one other time for poking an employee in the stomach.
“I am a fun-loving individual who is guilty of occasional playfulness. I apologize for giving a noogie to someone who requested a photo,” Moorlach said in a statement. “It was done during a light-hearted moment with others present. However, I will discontinue this innocent and gregarious behavior in the future.”
Moorlach is the latest California lawmaker to face accusations of inappropriate conduct or behavior. The state Legislature has been re-examining its harassment policies since last year, when nearly 150 women signed a letter detailing what it said was a pervasive culture of harassment by men at the Capitol.
The Legislature hired two law firms to investigate allegations of misconduct and promised to release substantiated allegations against lawmakers and senior staff members.
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